A meal enjoyed amongst friends!
PFF and company ventured off campus this Thursday evening to give Barbuzzo a try. Two of us had already tried Barbuzzo, experiencing stellar meals and stuffed bellies. We were thus pumped to introduce our companions to this intimate restaurant (part of the thread of 13th St. restaurants run by Chef Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran).
Barbuzzo is known for being a tapas-style place, so we opted to order a bunch of plates and share them. After checking out the fair number of menu options and taking previous diners’ opinions into account, we settled on six different dishes, excluding dessert. After we had eaten our main courses, we opted for dessert for a couple reasons: straight-up hunger and phenomenal recommendations from previous diners.
Nicole: I was expecting thick, juicy pan-seared scallops that were tender to the fork and melted in the mouth… but alas, the thinly-cut, oil-drenched sashimi-style appetizer that arrived at our table was none of that.
Qingxin: I was disappointed that the scallops were so thin and that there were so few slices on them. Also, I did not enjoy the mustard taste that overpowered everything else. I had to drink water to wash down the scallops, which left a somewhat bitter and fishy aftertaste.
Luke: I was surprised they were raw, but that is our fault for not reading the description and not asking how it was prepared. I thought they were very tender and they did melt in my mouth. Though I do not understand the need for the oil. It did not seem to add anything. They were thinly sliced, which is good. I don’t want to stuff a whole scallop in my mouth raw. Unfortunately, there was probably only the equivalent of two scallops on the plate, and this is just absurd for the pricing.
Nicole: Impressive presentation! The marrow was rich, fatty, and flavorful, spreading well on the accompanying crostini. The jam also had a nice tang, contrasting the unctuousness of the marrow.
Qingxin: The marrow was fatty and rich, but it could have used more salt. However, I did like how it melted in my mouth, and it perfectly complemented the delicious crostini. In fact, I actually liked the crostini more than the marrow itself!
Luke: I love marrow bone. Rich and creamy. Perfect for spreading on the bread. Although the additions–the jam and radish–were a nice offset, they were not spectacular. I do not think it needed salt; besides, it is hard to add salt when it is cooked in a bone.
Nicole: Well-prepared fish with a nice portion of pesto. Although some found the fish to be way too grilled, I thought it added to the fire-roasted flavor of the dish.
Qingxin: The fish was just okay. I hate that it was so scorched (it actually tasted somewhat bitter), and the sour barley under the piece of fish did not suit my tastes at all. The pesto wasn’t bad, but I don’t really care for it.
Luke: Way too burnt. And thinly sliced. When I order sea bass, I expect a good piece of meat, but there was nothing to this besides charred skin. I understand if it is fire roasted or something like that, but that means it should have a nice sear and some light char lines. It shouldn’t taste like the remnants of a fire pit. The mushroom was pointless. There was one laying underneath everything (Ed. Note: There were actually two, I ate one.), same with the artichoke. I didn’t know if they were there until everything was eaten off the top of them. Honestly I don’t remember tomatoes. The ingredients had nothing to do with each other, except that they were all piled on one plate.
Nicole: Easily the highlight of this meal. The crust was amazing: thin, with the perfect amount of crispiness and chewiness that pizza dough should have. The egg had this wonderful culinary power that bound the flavors together just right, with various nuances in each bite. The taste of truffle is still lingering in my mouth!
Qingxin: I hate the taste and smell of truffle! Thus, I did not enjoy this pizza and actually had to use water to wash down the bites. I did, however, enjoy the crust.
Luke: About time. This pizza was fantastic. The only way it could be better is if the crust could hold it all. The flavor was great. This and the dessert are the only things I would get if I went back. But I do not like that I can not lift the pizza without it collapsing; the crust was just not sturdy enough. That is a problem.
Salsiccia Pizza (with san marzanos, housemade fennel sausage, fior di latte, taggiasca olives, and hot pickled peppers)
Nicole: Delicious crust. (I believe Barbuzzo knows their bread!) However, the crust could not hold up the tomato-based sauce and toppings without drooping. The amount of sausage on this pizza was also lacking. I swear there was only one morsel of sausage on each quarter-slice.
Qingxin: This red-based pizza was not bad (better than the Uovo IMHO), but it was definitely nothing special. I would probably never order it again. While the crust was good, the saucy part was lacking any real flavor (and especially lacking salt). I only had a small piece of sausage on my slice, but what I had was good.
Luke: Boring. There was nothing to this pizza, just all sauce and the sauce was nothing special. Worst of all, there was nothing on top and this too could not hold up to the toppings. It collapsed as soon as you took it off the tray. Not worth anything.
Nicole: A simple dish– nothing too exciting or special about it.
Qingxin: This dish was good, but it wasn’t anything special. It tastes like a regular marinara pasta dish with cheese throughout the pasta. I also didn’t taste any pork.
Luke: It’s a pasta dish. Woohoo. Nothing special. It was pasta with read sauce. The sauce was okay, but not amazing. Plus the portion was about half a side order. Not happy.
Nicole: Tasty! The salty-sweet caramel blended perfectly with the creamy pudding, nicely offset by the chocolate crust. I’m interested in making an at-home version of this.
Qingxin: This dessert was the best part of the meal. The caramel layer was the perfect consistency, and the salt did not overpower the caramel at all. The chocolate crust was only okay, but the upper layers were amazing!
Luke: Delicious, creamy, and smooth, with the crunch of the Oreo crust and the sea salt offsetting the sugar perfectly. It was delicious. but still not worth the price for the portion.
Nicole: If I had only eaten the Uovo and Budino, Barbuzzo would have garnered a solid ★★★★ from me. However, some of their dishes fell flat and simply did not wow me. Additionally, all the plate portions are small for the prices. ★★★1/2
Qingxin: The portions were extremely small, and the dishes (beside the dessert) were nothing special. It was quite surprising to me that none of the six salted dishes that we ordered were amazingly good. I mean, how hard should it be to find something I love among SIX dishes?!?! The dishes are overpriced, and I would not come back myself nor recommend this place to others. ★★1/2
Luke: If I go back, I will only get the Uovo pizza and the budino dessert. Although I don’t like the prices when compared to the portion sizes, at least those dishes were delicious. ★★★1/2
Qingxin, Luke, and I may be harsh food critics. Jessica, however, has some words of wisdom that sum up our dinner best:
“I think that the biggest part of a dinner is enjoying the people that you’re with and the atmosphere of the restaurant that you’re in, while food is really secondary. Barbuzzo made a wonderful impression on me the first time because the atmosphere was so warm and inviting, and the server that we had was genuinely in love with the restaurant and excited to be there. which made the food taste even better. I love that the kitchen is outside in the open for people to observe, and the waitstaff are open and attentive. The only negative comments that I have on the food are that the Tufoli was just regular pasta and the fish was perhaps a little too burnt, but otherwise I thought everything else was amazing. The food itself isn’t what makes a restaurant spectacular, but rather what the restaurant owners have managed to build around the food.”
Post-Barbuzzo, Qingxin and Luke were still hungry, so we brainstormed places we could visit to satisfy their stomachs. While Jessica went grocery shopping and headed her separate way, the remaining three of us headed over to DiBruno’s. We were hoping to capitalize on “end-of-the-day” deals on baked goods. Unfortunately, it seemed there was no such deal at the time we visited. No matter– I still love visiting the place for their epic selection of cheeses!
From there, we strolled south and ran into Yogorino, a yogurt place Qingxin and I had been meaning to try. I was pretty full by this time, but Qingxin stopped in and got the mini cup, topping it with melted Toblerone chocolate sauce.
Her comments: “The sauce hardened on the tart frozen yogurt, and it was pretty good. However, it wasn’t anything special. The texture was like a chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream cone (except for the sweet vanilla part). ★★★1/2”
Before walking back to campus (per our PFF rules), we made one last stop at the 7-Eleven across the street. Luke had an unfortunate experience with the “Bahama Mama” hot dog (he found that “while eating it, it was fine… but felt so guilty afterwards”), Qingxin grabbed some Skittles and gum to tide her over during studying, and with that, it was time to venture across the river and go back to the books!
110 S 13th St
233 S 20th St